If you've read through the last four articles in my extensive series on how to change habits, then chances are you already have a lot of ideas for how ...
If you've read through the last four articles in my extensive series on how to change habits, then chances are you already have a lot of ideas for how you can take control of your habits. By investing the time to practice these skills, making effective habit changes will become a lot easier. Fixing the habits that you are aware need obvious changes is the first step. Once you've reached this level, however, you can start taking your habits from good to great.
To someone who hasn't mastered the skills of changing habits, experimentation may seem like searching for problems that are not even there. But for those who have become skilled making habit changes in themselves, experimentation allows us to take our habits a lot further. Instead of just theorizing about whether a habit change will improve your life, you can actually go out and test it. Don't guess what you can test.
Just as awareness is critical to identify your bad habits, awareness is critical to help you notice how you might be able to take your habits to the next level. By reading and researching from a large variety of subject areas, you can continually receive ideas for ways you can take your habits to a new level.
The main problem with getting a lot of information is that the information is largely useless unless you can invest it into your life. Reading about time management is a waste of time unless you can adopt the techniques described for yourself. Reading about health and fitness is also a waste if you lack the skill to invest those abilities in the form of habits and behaviors in your life. This is why mastering the ability to control habits is so critical. Without the ability to effectively control your habits, self-help is just something interesting, not actually helpful.
Read from a large variety of fields, don't specialize. While reading for your career or passion can give you expertise in that field, running your life can't be specialized. You can't delegate your life functions to another person, so you have to be a Jack of all trades and master of none. Learn about diet, business, finances, time management, spirituality, relationships, psychology and science. Don't limit yourself to studying your favorite subject when it comes to yourself.
Maintain an open mind with whatever you are reading. There are many times when I'll be reading something, especially something where the author has a different view of spirituality than my own, where a little voice in my head wants to say, "Yeah, right…" During these times I have to consciously turn off the little voice in my head. Use this voice when you are deciding whether or not to take action, but so long as you are still gathering information make sure your skepticism doesn't rear its ugly head.
Conduct your experiment
With your new ability to change habits fairly easily, you now have the option of suspending your judgement on an idea until you have tested it in your own life. People who can't effectively change habits are stuck with using their narrowminded viewpoint to decide whether or not to go through the process of making a change. With the power to test, you have to learn to restrain your tendency to judge until after you've given it a thorough testing.
A successful experiment usually requires a minimum of thirty days to conduct. This is because any less than that and you are still in the difficult part of the conditioning phase. Knowing whether a habit is more or less effective can only be determined once you've reached a point where simply running the habit doesn't take a lot of your energy.